Untimed – Two Novels, Two Drafts!

My second novel, Untimed, is a YA time-travel adventure.

And I just finished the rough version of my second draft. Whew! Happy to be done with that. The book grew to 84,000 words (it’ll probably get trimmed down a bit for draft three). It still needs polish, but the second draft is often the worst, and this one took 5 or so weeks of concentrated work. While I learned from my first novel and put the beginning at the right place, the previous draft still had a number of classic first draft problems.

Namely, character and motivation needed work. Plot can formally be considered the friction between the protagonist’s desire and the obstacles to said desire. The book is/was jam packed with conflict and action, but the desire line was a bit weak. I won’t say it’s perfect now, but it’s a hell of a lot better. As are the characters. For me it’s difficult in the first draft to flesh both of these out because as a pantser I don’t know exactly where I’m going with the story until I get there. Not that I write blind, but I like the story and the characters to take me where they want.

When writing the second draft, you have an end (even if you plan on changing it), so you know all the elements that you intend to put in the book. Therefore it’s easier to go back and foreshadow those and reinforce the important ones. You also know what the character is going to need to feel at different points in the story, so it’s easier to try and set up and reinforce those feelings.

Additionally, as a pantser, I actually get to know my characters in the first draft. The writing of them brings them to life in my head. Then in the second draft, I need to brainstorm extra elements in their past and present that reinforce the traits I know they’re supposed to have, then hint at the them in the book. Again, hard to do the first time around.

Now to see what some reader that aren’t me think — and trial and nail the third draft.

I’d also like to thank my story-consultants Sharon & Bryan for listening to every blow by blow change and my independent editors Renni & Shannon for pointing me in the second draft direction. Here’s to hoping I went far enough :-).

The second draft involved a few weeks of incubation (June), a full read and polish (also June), and then hardcore writing from June 30 until August 2.

And in case you’re wondering what the book is about, I still haven’t written a log line, but its a lean-mean-fast-paced first person present story about a boy whose name no one remembers — not even his mother. And it features Ben Franklin, Napoleon, a male gang leader that wears red high heels, and the Tick-Tocks, creepy clockwork time traveling machines from the future.

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7 comments on “Untimed – Two Novels, Two Drafts!

  1. [...] August 2, 2011 at 8:56 pm Untimed – Two Novels, Two Drafts! « All Things Andy Gavin [...]

  2. Randeep says:

    Hi Andy,
    Seems like it’s been a while since you’ve posted some none food stuff :P (Though the food did look amazing.) Untimed sounds like an interesting premise, and I can’t wait to hear more about it.
    Anyway, this post of writing has got a few questions for me.
    - Seeing as you’ve finished up on the Darkening Dream and you’re working on this, did you ever work on the stories for Crash and Jak? Whether that be writing the script for the game, or helping to design the characters and their personalities? Or were you too busy working some magic with LISP?
    - Have you ever heard of NaNoWriMo?
    http://www.nanowrimo.org/
    Basically, it’s a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in November, from scratch. I was curious to know if you did attempt it, and if so, how it went, as well as your experiences? If not, maybe you’ll give it a go and blog about it? I am quite tempted to try it out, as I’ve mainly been writing short stories, but nowhere near the 50k mark. The other problem will be your accursed friends at Naughty Dog will be releasing Uncharted 3 on 03-11-11 here in Australia, so I imagine many hours in November will be spent on that :P
    - Slightly related, but not really, if I want to get into Game of Thrones, shall I read the books first, or the show, or do both? I’ve been hearing nothing but praise for the show, but I also hear the books it is based off of is quite good, so I would like to know what you think about it.
    - Even less slightly related: Did you ever own a Kindle? Which is better for reading, Kindle or iPad 2? Obviously the iPad 2 is capable of so much more, but I just would like to know what you think of the reading functionality of the two devices.

    Sorry for the giant wall of text and flood of questions, but I find that you express your opinion very well, and I like to read what you have to say.

    Cheers,

    Randeep

    • agavin says:

      I have mixed in perhaps 15% non-food posts :-) but all the Italian posts that I’ve had backed up have been clamoring to just get done with it.

      As to reading device. The iPad2 is by far the best. The Kindle is much cheaper, has longer bat life, and is easier to read in the sun. But that’s it. The iPad is much faster and more versatile.

      I did various story writing stuff on our games. Particularly I wrote the stories (and a lot of the text) for our older (pre Crash) games. Crash didn’t have much story, and by the Jak era I had too much tech and management to have much time. Certainly on all Naughty Dog games (while I was there) I had a huge influence on all sorts of aspects. But they are also team projects, and there are/were many very talented people there.

      I haven’t done NaNoWriMo, although I’ve known about it for a while. The last two Nov’s I was very busy in the middle of the first and last drafts of TDD. Nov 2009 I wrote perhaps 70,000 words in Nov — but it was the middle of a novel not the whole thing. Besides, my issue in writing — and I have my own issues — is NOT lacking the discipline to sit down and pound out a big project. I can do that pretty easily. Also, no one will publish a 50k novel (maybe MG). You need 65-70k even in YA.

      As to GOT. Both show and books are amazing. The books are better — which isn’t knocking the show — it’s just a medium thing. Read Book 1, then see the show and read the rest of the books in any order. You’ll enjoy the show AND the books more if you read book 1 before seeing the show.

  3. [...] Untimed – Two Novels, Two Drafts! (all-things-andy-gavin.com) [...]

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